Stepfan Taylor to Cardinals: How Does RB Fit with Arizona?

Shaun ChurchContributor IApril 27, 2013

November 30, 2012; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor (33) runs the ball during the first quarter of the Pac-12 Championship game against the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the 140th pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals have selected former Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor.

How does Taylor fit with what head coach Bruce Arians wants his offense to do?

For three seasons at Stanford, he ruled the backfield. He is the only running back in school history to gain at least 1,000 yards rushing in three straight years. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry throughout his collegiate career.

Taylor has rushed for the sixth-most yards in Division I since 2009, amassing 4,300 yards on the ground—another school record.

He is durable, having played in 52 games while at Stanford. That is one reason Arians and general manager Steve Keim brought him in.

The thought is that with two running backs on the roster who have a history of recent injuries, they could use a player with a proven track record of being able to stay on the field. Taylor is that. He epitomizes the “three-down back” Arians wants on his team.

With Rashard Mendenhall on a one-year “prove it” contract and Ryan Williams having yet to show he can play an NFL season without being injured, Taylor gives the Cardinals an every-down option in case the stable of workhorses implodes with injury.

It is not the best pick in terms of getting the most athletic running back or the speediest guy. But Taylor is a football player, and he knows how to play the game. He is smart, can adjust to any offense and will be sturdy for Arians.

Taylor may find it hard to get on the field as long as Mendenhall and Williams are healthy though, and that will be his biggest adjustment as a rookie. Sitting on the bench and not playing every down like he did at Stanford will be excruciating for him.

It may drive him to work harder during practice to earn more playing time by showing he can be a valuable piece in the offense. If that is the case, the Cardinals could have a good running back battle on their hands in the near future—especially if Mendenhall pans out and earns a deal beyond 2013 at some point.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I did not like this pick at all. After having some time to think about the situation Arizona is in, it does make a bit more sense. I still believe Johnathan Franklin would have been a better pickup, but Taylor is a solid back who may end up having a great NFL career.

You don’t always have to be fast to succeed in the league. Sometimes, you have to be smarter than the rest, work harder than the rest and be more durable than the rest. Taylor, a Stanford graduate, is smart, no doubt. He has great work ethic. He is beyond durable.

This is a pretty good pick for the Cardinals.

Head over to Twitter and follow Taylor. He believes Arizona is the perfect fit for him. Show him Cardinals fans are a reason he’s in a great situation.